The feast of Christ the King marks the end of the liturgical cycle and Church year - we will soon begin the season of Advent, when our minds and hearts are turned towards embracing God within our midst.
Advent is a time of anticipation, of expectation and preparation. But it is also a time of memory: we recall the many years that mankind awaited the Messiah. We remember the deep longing within the soul of man for the presence of God throughout history. And we celebrate His coming to this planet in the human form of Jesus - Emmanuel: God with us. Our liturgies will be filled with the rich memories of the Christmas Story: the call of Mary to be His mother, and her "fiat" to the Father's invitation - Joseph's heartbreak, and his deep love for Mary - the hard trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the angels, the swaddling clothes, the Magi who come to worship a new-born King.
And the ever-pressing Advent question is, as always: “Who is this King of Glory?”
So, it is fitting that the four weeks of Advent are immediately preceded with the wonderful celebration of Christ's Kingship. God becomes man; man becomes priest, prophet, and king.
But what exactly is this kingship that Christ manifested? What is it - exactly - that He says we shall inherit? It is certainly not what we would expect - and maybe not even what we would desire.
Jesus is a king who is described by Ezekiel in this way:
‘As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal.’
Jesus is a king who describes his followers like this:
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
This is king we look to; this is the inheritance we receive. We are carriers of a new vision. We are dreamers of His dream that all may be one, loved and accepted as persons of immeasurable value. We are the bearers of life, nurturing it in all of its myriad manifestations. We are the reminders that truth, goodness, and beauty are to be pursued and enjoyed. We are called to be servants of the Word, open and vulnerable to its transforming power - a community of disciples who live simply, love tenderly and act justly.
These months of pandemic have highlighted the desperate need of the poor, and those impoverished by loss of jobs, businesses and medical bills. Today we see the King who leads us beyond ourselves as we encounter the mystery of a God beyond all imagining. This is the King who leads us into ourselves as we contemplate the wonder of who we are. This is the King who leads us towards others, as we accept the challenge of incarnating God's presence on earth - as courageously and as lovingly as He did.
This is the King who beckons: "Come, blessed of my Father..."